Dog mauls penguin to death in Wellington
A little blue penguin has been killed by a dog near central Wellington.
Wellington City Councillor Peter Gilberd, who has the environment portfolio, said the death on Thursday night was a reminder for people to keep dogs on a leash.
The penguin had been roosting in rocks in front of Frank Kitts Park when it was attacked.
"A lot of people wouldn't realise that we have little blue penguins roosting right in the middle of Wellington – but it's a happy fact of life.
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"Unfortunately most dogs will naturally see a little blue penguin as prey – and if a dog is off-leash then it'll kill a penguin in a couple of seconds – before anybody can do anything.
"People should use the city's dog parks to provide off-leash exercise."
The council or Department of Conservation (DoC) could prosecute the dog owner if they were found.
Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said a witness had seen the penguin attacked by the dog.
DoC Wellington operations manager Jack Mace said dogs were thought to be the greatest threat to little blue penguins.
"We are very lucky in Wellington to have penguins readily visible in the central city, and to have one killed by a dog is very disappointing.
"Penguins are absolutely protected under the Wildlife Act and we will be investigating further to determine whether we can prosecute the person responsible."
According to DoC, the little blue is the world's smallest penguin at a little more than 25cm tall and weighing around 1kg.
"The population and range of little penguin has been declining in areas not protected from predators.
"Where predator control is in place, populations have been stable or increasing."
Adult birds came ashore between May and June to prepare nests and could travel up to 1.5km from the sea.
They traditionally nested in underground burrows, under vegetation, in crevices, between rocks, or in caves.